Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen stay co-leaders in Champions Chess Tour

Roy Luarca

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Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen stay co-leaders in Champions Chess Tour

CHESS WHIZ. Wesley So in action in a FIDE tournament.


Wesley So admits he’s surprised by his strong start in the elite chess tournament pitting eight of the best players in the world

MANILA, Philippines – Wesley So survived Armageddons against French stars Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alireza Firouzja to keep top spot with Magnus Carlsen in the 2023 Champions Chess Tour (CCT) Finals on Sunday, December 10 (Monday, December 11, Philippine time) at the 1 Hotel in Toronto, Canada.

The Filipino-born So rebounded from a first-game loss by besting Vachier-Lagrave in the second and prevailing in their Round 3 tiebreaker.

Pitted against Alireza in Round 4, So settled for two successive draws before taking down the 20-year-old Iranian-born star, the youngest player to breach the Elo 2800 rating in classical play in 2021.

Carlsen, the former world champion and reigning titlist in the $500,000 tournament, trounced world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, 1.5-0.5, and then subdued Hikaru Nakamura via Armageddon after they drew their two games.

Counting his earlier victories over Nakamura and Denis Lazavik, respectively, So raised his total to a perfect 4.0 points like Carlsen, who beat teen sensations Lazavik and Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the first two rounds.

His strong start surprised So no end as he bared that his initial goal in the elite eight-player event was just to finish in the top 6.

Other Round 4 results saw Lazavik stun Vachier-Lagrave via Armageddon and Abdusattorov blank Caruana, 2-0, to tie his victim at 2.0 points. Lazavik, Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura, and Firouzja share the cellar at 1.0 point.

So, trying to duplicate his 2022 Global Championship at the same venue, and Carlsen, seeking a third straight crown in the concluding event of the CCT, will dispute the solo lead in Round 5 on Monday.

“I hope the best Magnus doesn’t show up, but if he does, it’ll be an uphill battle,” said So in an interview on the tournament website.

Other matches pit Nakamura against Abdusattorov, Lazavik against Caruana, and Firouzja against Vachier-Lagrave. –

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